A Sad Day For Whatcom Land Trust

Our former Stewardship Director Nick Saling was reported missing Sunday October 20th while on a sailing trip. His boat was found near Lummi Island. An extensive search was conducted by the Coast Guard, friends and family, but was suspended as new evidence was found making a water-related accident the most likely cause of his disappearance.

More from the Bellingham Herald. https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article236499748.html

Nick held the position as Stewardship Director at the Whatcom Land Trust from 2012-2014. He was hired based on his strong experience in woodland restoration work with the City of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Watershed, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Whatcom Land Trust, Washington Conservation Corps (WCC). Nick had many friends among these organizations thanks to his affable manners as well as his people skills in handling some challenging situations. During his two years with us, Nick continued to make many friends and expand the Land Trust community.

Current Stewardship Director, Jenn Mackey, remembers that Nick was the one who brought the Land Trust’s stewardship work to a higher level. He hired a part time WCC crew to bring several Trust properties to their needed levels. He hired the first WCC Individual Placement, who was Jenn Mackey.  He also helped hire the Trust’s first Conservation Easement Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator.  Unfortunately for the Land Trust, Nick gave into temptation by a Department of Ecology offer to become the first WCC regional coordinator in the Northwest Washington area to focus more on inspiring the next generation of stewards and as well as being a mentor to WCC supervisors in the region. He, along with Eric Carabba (previous Conservation Director) are the main reason Jenn is Stewardship Director nowSome of the large projects during his time with the Trust include the Maple Creek Reach restoration, demolition of the “mouse house” at Samish River, restoration at Wildcat Reserve, the hand removal of one cabin at Christie Creek via cable across the South Fork Nooksack River, and many more.


Jenn said that she met with Nick for a beer a few weeks prior and that he was as chipper as ever offering life advice as usual. He also enjoyed talking about his two teenage children. He has given keys to his sailboat to many people who needed a place to stay for a night or even a few weeks. Before working with the Land Trust, his work with the Washington Conservation Corps as crew supervisor at the City of Bellingham dealing with the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion. Many of the restored creeks you now see throughout Bellingham had Nick’s hand in them, along with many of the Land Trust properties that continue to be protected forever.

Nick was and always will be part of the Land Trust family. Our hearts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.

A Celebration of Nick’s life will be held on Sunday, November 17th from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Zuanich Boat House, 2600 North Harbor Look Drive, Bellingham, Washington

The video above was made in 2013 by William Fritzberg (Alan Fritzberg’s son) made a video of our Maple Creek Reach property that Nick was very involved with.

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